This week, I chatted with Orioles reliever Brian Matusz. We talked about his role, the bullpen, rookie Kevin Gausman, and how he chose his warm-up music.
Q: With how close the AL East is shaping up to be, how important are divisional games this year?
BM: Every game's important, whether it's division or not. But especially against the Yankees the team that, obviously we're actually fighting up against everyone in the division for first, but especially the Yankees because they're the team that knocked us out last year and they're always in the top of the division. Every game against them is really important.
Q: Is this how you expected the AL East to be this year?
BM: No doubt. With the talent that's in this division every year, every single team. We knew that it was going to be close all the way through, but we've just got to take it one game at a time.
Q: You've been in the bullpen since last August, how adjusted do you feel to the different role through three months of this season?
BM: I have a little bit more experience with three months this year, but it's still a learning process every day. Still watching guys and learning and picking up new things and making adjustments and sitting next to Billy Castro in the bullpen and talking to him about approach throwing to certain hitters and pitches and mixing it up and things like that. So, yeah, I do have a little bit more time in the bullpen, but it's still an ongoing learning process.
Q: You've had a lot of success with stranding inherited runners. How difficult and different is that to enter the game and already have guys on base?
BM: For me, regardless whether runners are on base or not, you want to get the hitter out. That's the objective. But it's nice to go in there and strand runners for the other pitchers. ... To be able to go there in the game and get an out to end the inning, just pitchers picking up other pitchers, and that's why this is a team game.
Q: How close do you get to the other guys in the bullpen with how much time you spend out there with them?
BM: Too close. We know each other too well. We've got a great group of guys and we obviously spend every day together with different jokes here and there and having fun. It's pretty loose for the first half of the game or so, and then when it's about time for a guy to get in the game, everyone gets ready, starts stretching and pretty much getting prepared together. We've got a tight group and we get along and have a lot of fun out there.
Q: Who's the funniest guy out there in the bullpen?
BM: Oh man, everyone's pretty funny in their own way, but I would have to say it's a combination between [T.J.] McFarland and [Darren] O'Day. And then there's Tommy [Hunter] who's hilarious so I mean it's really tough to pick just one.
Q: With Kevin Gausman joining you guys out there, have you gotten a chance to talk much with the top prospect?
BM: Yeah, Kevin's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. He's a smart kid and obviously has tremendous stuff. Everyday I try to talk to Kev and try to help him get adjusted, especially to the bullpen, something that's new to him.
Q: Do you feel like you can relate to him, being a former top five pick yourself?
BM: No doubt. I look at him and I see myself not too long ago. Shy and new and obviously really excited to be in the big leagues.
Q: Your warm-up song is "Voodoo Child" by Jimi Hendrix. Are you a big fan of classic rock?
BM: Yeah, definitely. I chose that song, it's funny, my dad and I were driving together, this is probably early high school. And the song played on the radio and I'm like, 'Dad, if I ever make it to the big leagues, that's going to be my walk-out song.' That's why I chose it.